Which is better preparation for being president: being a governor or member of Congress?
Americans are warming to the idea that being chief executive of a state gives a presidential candidate a better foundation for being president, according to a new Pew Research Center poll. Forty-four percent of the public say being governor is better preparation for the White House, up 20 percentage points since Pew asked the question in February 2007.
The same number, 44%, said being a U.S. senator or member of Congress is the best training ground to be president. That's actually down 11 percentage points since Pew's 2007 poll.
Republicans have been touting several current or former governors — New Jersey's Chris Christie, Ohio's John Kasich, Louisiana's Bobby Jindal and Wisconsin's Scott Walker among the current crop, and Florida's Jeb Bush and Arkansas' Mike Huckabee in the latter group — as possible 2016 presidential candidates.
On the Democratic side, Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley and New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo have been mentioned as potential 2016 White House hopefuls — along with Hillary Rodham Clinton, who served eight years in the U.S. Senate.
More than half, or 51%, of Republicans polled say being a governor is the best preparation for being president, compared with 35% of Democrats polled and 45% of independents.
By contrast, 55% of Democrats say being a member of Congress is the best training ground for the presidency, while 40% of Republicans and 42% of independents have the same view.
Experience in elective office of some sort is viewed as a benefit, the Pew poll shows. More than half, or 52%, of respondents say they would be less likely to vote for a presidential candidate who is a political novice, compared with 9% who say they would be more likely to back a political newcomer.
Barack Obama in 2008 was the first sitting U.S. senator since John F. Kennedy in 1960 to be elected president. George W. Bush and Bill Clinton both won the presidency after serving as governors.